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403B wonk

June 11th, 2012 at 08:30 pm

I heard about this - has anyone else? Apparently all 401K (and I assume, the close relation, 403B) plans have to first present their fee structure to plan participants. That will be a surprise to a lot of people. Me being a 403B wonk, I've gone to all the meetings, Q & As ... everything. Fees aren't a surprise to me. Our fees aren't horrible - one can invest in things under 1%.

The real fun begins in October when the fee transaction shows up taken out of your account. Woah nelly.

I progressed on sister's birthday present - mosaic house numbers for the place in Milwaukee and the farmette. I finished gluing the glass bits to a fiberglass mesh. This last weekend, I made thinset mortar and glued the mosaic mesh to the backing board. Here's what everything looks like.

The pieces will be outside, so everything has to be able to take rain, freeze thaw, and UV light. The backing board is styrofoam/fiberglass/coated concrete. The 'glue' is thinset mortar, the bits are glass and vitreous glass. All that has to be done is grout, and seal the grout. It should wear like iron.

(Oh yes, if you look carefully at the picture ... I have jury duty next week. Fun times.)

early June, no shots fired edition

June 6th, 2012 at 09:00 pm

This week I formally asked for and got time to take the trip to Argentina. I knew I could get it - had plenty of PTO - but its a point of pride not to leave my boss hanging. I'm also taking a number of days off.

As a shareholder of KO, I got the shareholder proxy vote for the 2 for 1 stock split. Voted yes. So much less drama than voting for a person ... and yes I firmly believe that corporations are not people.

Sister's birthday gift is progressing nicely. I've glued the mosaic pieces together. I'll buy the thinset this weekend.

Contractor is tearing down the Greenwood Market building this week. I watched through the hurricane fence and saw the big gaping holes in the front of the building dug out by the dozers. Never had the lowest prices, but they were the most conscientious.

Am holding at 164.2, ready for the next drop down. My lowest weight in the modern era is 163.6.

Frugal superpowers

May 27th, 2012 at 09:36 pm

Thursday night, I swapped the cords from our non-working DVD player to to the one I bought last week at the neighborhood yard sale. The player and the remote work!

Friday I joked that I had a frugal superpower. Along with being able to pick grocery store produce ... and I used that this weekend by picking out and buying the best 3 pound clamshell of strawberries. Our own strawberries in the strawberry pot are flowering and just setting fruit, as is one of our blueberry plants.

Got the idea for sister's birthday gift in August from a photo she sent me with my birthday gift... turns out that the farmette finally now has a mailbox. And that got me thinking; the classic first mosaic project for some is a house number plate. I know we have no house number plate at the farmette, so a mosaicked one will be her birthday gift.

1 down, 179 to go

November 28th, 2011 at 08:27 pm

First day of bosses' leave was a quiet one and I managed to get mostly caught up on the routine stuff ... a couple of the big projects remain.

Am up to 167, but not bad considering I ate sweet, delicious leftovers.

Put an ad in our company intranet to advertise 4 free chicks. Duvall couple found a couple of rebel chickens who nested in amongst the blackberry brambles. Not a bad idea - a predator will have to be darn hungry to make it through a thicket of blackberries. They managed to rescue several of the eggs, candled them and found that they were developing. Wyandottes.

Got a surprise looking through Wikipedia - the golden Wyandotte was developed in a farm around my home town, probably within a couple of miles from the farmette. I NEVER thought anything or anybody of note came out of my home town.

state of the household for June

June 2nd, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Savings: $8 tip box
Spending: $1.91 coffee + $1 apple + $17 groceries

The next weeks are going to be semi spendy. I won a pair of Sounders tickets, so while that will be free, well there's the beer and food. (And lately food is especially pricey.) DH is asking for us to go for a beer at a new pub in the neighborhood. We all reconnected with the rancher that we bought the beef from - we'll be buying another one this year - but we probably will be putting down a little deposit.

I did manage to get that $300 to buy more SYY stock, so that was something, and June is a dividend extravaganza month, so there's at least a $150 getting reinvested automagically this month. Even with the over 300 point drop over the last couple of days, my drp portfolio is holding at about $33K.

Work is back to being nice and quiet ... for once. Finished up one of my direct reports performance evaluation, one down, one to go, and I have to do mine. Apparently we will get a pay raise out of this. Will it be enough to counterbalance no fresh produce under $1/lb. Stay tuned.

Sister called. She now has 12 people who have bought into her CSA ... been gardening up a storm. This Sunday I paid for a class to learn to do garden mosaics, which I psyched about. Either I'll make a little something for my collection of pots, or I'll do a little something for the farmette. Depends on my interest, inspiration and whether I have a knack.

before Vietnam, actual fiscal news

March 4th, 2011 at 08:04 pm

Discovered that one of my Drp stocks did a 2:1 split while I was gone (WEC). Actually, the split got completed my first day back.

I found out because I look at the share prices every couple of days and it was freakishly low. Like, tear my hair what happened low. Nice to know it was a divide by two situation.

I'll be checking the transfer agent to see how they account for it and how they calculate the cost basis, but as for me right now maintaining my spreadsheet, all I'm doing is multiplying the shares I have by 2, and dividing the price I paid by 2.

Also turns out that the dividend increased by a couple of pennies per share also. Good news on that front.

I picked up a copy of Turbo Tax yesterday. My financial moves this year have been pretty boring - no IRA conversions or odd schedules coming from an inheritance. (Unless I find $100 bills on the sidewalk, the IRS doesn't particularly want to know.) This year, bread and butter. I can do bread and butter myself.

Finishing up catching up at work which has been a struggle. I'm still jet lagged and when I wake up I think that I'm not in Seattle but somewhere in Asia. Its been much rougher than Paris. Getting to Hanoi I wasn't particularly jet lagged, or perhaps I was so excited that I didn't care. Could also be the light - Paris is a similar latitude as Seattle, so the day lengths are similar - May/June nice and long. Vietnam, being close to the equator, has a day length close to 12 hrs year round, while Seattle, not so much.

Did make it to the gym and miracle of miracles, I'm under 170, with a 1 lb weight gain. That after 3 full meals/day, hours mostly on the bus or a plane with a bit of walking, and multiple course meals with beer or wine. I thought for sure I'd have put on at least 5 pounds.

Sent sister the $5000 for farmette upkeep. She's back in Milwaukee from the trip. I hope she had a good time - those last few days when the tour ended and we were flying home was especially rough. Incheon airport in Korea with an 11 hour layover was especially hard.

glorious, restful work

September 3rd, 2010 at 09:28 pm

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $5 groceries

Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $7 groceries

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $0

Feels very good getting back to work. Not because work is always super fantastic, but it is something that really keeps you from spending money. Hours can pass, and none of my money spent. Glorious. Vacation can be stressful in its own way, even if you do nothing. Nothing means, if nothing else, you are eating and spending more.

I did a bit of catching up. Sister enjoyed my creation for her birthday gift - a flipbook made from one of the books I made from a Japanese book binding kit, some pictures I took around the farmette, and a few fortune cookie fortunes.

Unfortunately, the Milwaukee Film Fest didn't accept the movie, so no quick trip to visit sister. I did mention to screenwriter friend that he could show it at another great Milwaukee venue: sister's-across-the-street neighbor owns a converted funeral parlor. This guy's "man cave" was once the main viewing room, and now is a large room with a home theater, 8 barcaloungers in a semi-circle, and a full size pool table many feet behind the loungers. Mammoth man cave, in other words. You could easily fit about 100 people comfortably for a show. Smile

Still fine after the experimental flu shot. No pecking. Well, DH would probably disagree. Smile Actually, I figure that this is going to be the safest flu shot I'm ever gonna get because I'm going to be one of a few hundred being heavily monitored. That has to be far safer than the average one that millions would get a few years from now.

DJ friend is interested in buying a few pounds of beef from us. I figure that our price for all our beef averaged about $7/lb, so that will be his price. However, the twist is that one of those pounds will be hamburger just to get the average right. Selling a little bit will have a useful function - it will make a little room for some bartered duck. Beef fest is still going to be Sept 11.

V.I. passed her 1 yr anniversary with us. So far, she has a little bit of a scratching issue. The vet hasn't found an obvious cause. No ringworm or fleas or anything that can be cultured. So its a watch and wait - change her diet from dry to wet, give her lots of affection and not too many stresses. No surprise vet boardings while we go on summer field trips.

catching up ...again

August 28th, 2010 at 11:14 pm

Even though its been a relaxing stay at home, a lot had happened:

Did the neighborhood gumshoe event for $20. It was a list of 30 clues that got you about and out and around the neighborhood, and you had to answer the question regarding each place. I think the preteen set had the best mind for it; they observed, took things literally, and didn't read too much into the clues.

Went up to Vancouver, B.C. for a surprise two day trip. That one was a bit pricey - about $200 for the hotel room and parking.

Sent off sister's birthday gift for $10 - most of her gifts were home or kit-made or were provided for from the Greenwood yard sale. I especially liked how the flip book of pictures of the farmette and the two framed pics of the farmette turned out.

The rancher delivered the beef to us this afternoon. That one was a bit pricey - $316. We got our 1/8, or about 50 lbs, and I think we got pretty much what we wanted. All told, it did work out to be about $7/lb. Best of all, it just barely fit into the freezer. Here's what 50 lbs of beef looks like in a top freezer.

DH had to re-pack the big bag of short ribs into two smaller ones - he got one of the bags of short ribs into the freezer, but the other is in the fridge. Anybody got a great recipe for short ribs?

Oh yes, the official beef fest is going to be on the 11th.

spendy right now but crafts will distract me

August 17th, 2010 at 08:46 pm

Well, I'm on vacay, trying to get the PTO levels down, but again it will be a staycay (don't bother, thief). Lately its been very pricey for us too with the $318 for the beef and car repairs totaling $600. And then vacay is a bit spendy even as a staycay - if I'm at work, reading emails, bringing my lunch, doing stuff at my desk - I'm not spending money. None of this I'll buy coffee here, buy lunch here, need admission here. Trainer is away getting married (she already is, this one's for the parents), so that will be a bit less spendy.

But with vacay I'll have time to finish up two craft projects. They are two radically different ones.

1. Sister's birthday is coming up. I've made the three books in the bookbinding kit. They turned out well, so I think I will convert one into a farmette picture book printing some photos I took from there.

2. Making a playlist for beef fest. I already have the music, I even have it at the playlist stage. Now, being the ultimate control freak, I want to figure out a way to link the song files together so they will play in exactly the order I want them to. Both winamp and windows media will skip around after awhile.

must be summer

July 23rd, 2010 at 09:45 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $1.90 coffee
Found money - $0.06 (road, inside the bus)

I decided that I couldn't resist maintaining the dirty money tracking. I at least want to see whether or not July and August in general are bad finding money months or whether I hadn't hit my stride yet. Since 7/14, I've found an additional $1.11 ... It appears that last year was a "hadn't hit my stride yet" issue.

Woke up a bit later than usual - I'm now in throes of perimenopause with the hot flashes and night sweats, so its hard to sleep through the night. The open window helps, but its not perfect. Since I was running late, I bought coffee in the neighborhood to drink on the bus rather than take the time to buy coffee downtown. Hence the slightly higher price.

Deposited $47 of tip box savings this month yesterday. The tip box savings are helping me out of a couple of months of spending. Sigh. So I am, with a number of people here, getting back on the saving rails.

Sister called - she lives part time in Milwaukee, part time at the farmette. The sinkhole that developed in Milwaukee is in her neighborhood. (not her car!)

We had another person leave. This guy. The one who usually comes by and yaks for 30 minutes. An hour and a half this evening! Not a fan of him, but means that the screws are quietly tightening at work.

Greenwood Art Walk, 2010

May 17th, 2010 at 09:02 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $15 brunch + $3 mocha + $23 piece of art
Found money - $0.03 (floor, parking lot, newspaper box)

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $3.88 bagel, coffee + $10 for 10 Luna bars
Found money - $0.62 (road, planting strip & gutter, bus stop)

Saving log - $6 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $.50 apple + $8 lunch + $9 groceries
Found money - $0.03 (lotsa floors - food court, escalator, Safeway)

Thoroughly enjoyed myself at the Greenwood Art Walk, and saw many spectacles but I didn't take many pictures (matter of fact, really just one). I learned a lot about my neighbors.

Neighbor 1: A set designer for Hollywood - tv and film. Bought a bit of small commercial space and designed rooms to HIS liking...

I don't do justice, but being a renter and always looking at the tyranny of beige and white, seeing celandon green walls with yellow stencil, chinese sculpture and a wild chandelier...exciting. The basement of the place contained an art collective and I bought my $23 piece from them. It was a cute little leather monster - one-eyed and screaming. He looked like I feel in January or so.

Neighbor 2: I'm about a block north of the neighborhood park which has bought out two abutting properties. There is to be a meeting about what to do with them and how to integrate them with the park. I always like the idea of another P-patch, but it would be great to allow neighborhood restaurants to rent space also...several are only 3-4 blocks away. Another two cents I threw in was to create an entirely edible landscape, and a third is to commemorate the orchards that were here before the neighborhood was. Great ideas, the chair of the committee said - come to the meeting!

Neighbor 3: Lawyer. His flower photos made it through a juried art show, but I was excited that he specialized in wills and estate planning and he's in the neighborhood. I nabbed his card and a gift certificate.

Neighbor 4: (bringing it back to fiscal) A coin cutter. He pulled me aside and had me look at his work. He did the cutting, sanding, and spot plating of gold, palladium and rhodium of some of the elements. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that the Secret Service and the Treasury isn't after him. Apparently cutting coins is legal if the intent is not to defraud. Here's a thought: a cut Wisconsin quarter for sister developing her organic farming at the farmette. I'll have to think about that.

Elements of Investing

March 23rd, 2010 at 09:41 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $12 groceries
Found money - $0.01 (road)

Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $20 book
Found money - $0.01 (sidewalk)

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.88 coffee + $5 croissant, coffee + $2 weekend newspaper
Found money - $0.12 (sidewalk, road)

3/20 - 1 mi car (1 mi fewer than usual for Saturday), walk 4 mi, bus 4 mi
3/21 - 1 mi car, walk 5 mi, bus 4 mi
3/22 - no car, walk 3 mi, bus 14 mi
3/23 - no car, walk 2 mi, bus 12 mi

Cloudy, cooler day on Sunday so I left the patio table alone. Wanted to pick up the book Elements of Investing but the U Bookstore had sold their copy. They pulled a copy from the Bellevue store and I picked it up Monday. Its what you'd think it is: a homage to Elements of Style, except the subject is investing rather than writing. The basics, but frankly, we all need the basics. You lose money the fancier you get.

Honestly, not much else has been happening fiscally - I'm waiting, probably like millions of others, for my tax refund. Put $300 into stock and am waiting for that to be bought. Been hitting the gym even though the trainer's away. Holding at 169.2 - despite the all you can eat lunch to wish lawyer friend and his partner a bon voyage for their own trip to France. Still working hard, not finding many coins on the sidewalk - a penny or so/ day. My total is $30.14. Not complaining, but boy the sun and nice weather has dried up the money.

Called up sister. BIL, who told me he is going to EAA (farmette is about 6 mi away), hasn't talked to her yet. Is he flying in, or driving? Important to know for planning purposes because he'll need a car to get to EAA. Time to put a "pilot" Big Grin light under him.

weekend wagashi

January 11th, 2010 at 09:42 pm

Saving log - $5 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $8 lunch
Found money - $0.20 (sidewalks)

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.88 coffee, bagel + $20 (japanese plate, box of wagashi) + $3 bottle of bubble bath
Found money - $0.34 (sidewalk, road, floor)

Little bit of fun over the weekend. There is a Japanese confectionary shop that is only open to the general public on the 10th of every month - 1-6pm. Usually the 10th fell on a day when I was working or otherwise occupied. Yesterday was the 10th, so for curiosity's sake I checked it out and split a box with DH. (3 pieces, so not diet busting) Delicious by itself, although I was supposed to have it with the green tea during the tea ceremony held in the center room. A Japanese potter was selling her creations outside on the porch, so I bought a shallow bowl.

2 days away from 6 months of noting where I find change. I'm at $19.81: 501 pennies, 17 nickels, 82 dimes, 19 quarters, $1 bill. Hard to believe that I might make $40/yr in "dirty money".

After that, I'm the process of figuring out from my sister how much to send for farmette maintenance, and I've printed out my W-2 from work.

still freezing, man

December 8th, 2009 at 09:28 pm

Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $10 groceries + $70 Christmas gifts
Found money - $0.01 (counter)

Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $5 coffee, yogurt parfait + $10 lunch & snack
Found money - $0.10 (bus floor underneath my seat)

It is still cold - I'm in the Montana coat, called that because its what I wear in Montana in December. The one advantage I had when I weighed 210 is that I was never really cold; I was always insulated.

Bought (actually ordered from my Pampered Chef contact and paid her back) a set of 4 spirals with a stake at the bottom, and one bigger spiral again with the stake at the bottom. The idea is to plant the spiral in the ground with the stake, then set your drink in the spiral. The big spiral is to set in the bottle of whatever. I also got a set of pretty outdoor glasses.

The reason I decided on this gift for sister is that I saw pictures of some of her parties at the farmette. She had an amazing Tom Sawyer-like ability to get her friends in Milwaukee to come out and help shell beans or shell popcorn, or dig up potatoes. I figured that she can get a group together in a circle outside easily. Those stakes will be full of drinks.

Not much on the financial front. I did read about a stooper, a person who gleans money finding the winning tickets from the mass of tickets scattered on the floor of the betting parlor. Before really going after found money, I wouldn't have believed anybody did this, or that it would pay. Now? Its like recycling luck. Someone tossed away a semi-winning ticket, and he recycled it.

totally uncreative post

November 4th, 2009 at 08:22 pm

Saving log - $8 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0.17 (2 nickels, 7 pennies on sidewalk, road, bus floor) + yesterday $0.05 (various sidewalks)

Not much has been going on - sister got the dutch oven, the no-knead bread recipe with other stuff - a Bad Cat day calendar and a little pocket planning calendar with a plastic cover for rain, and a recipe pamphlet that we got for the beef. Sister is interested in making a similar thing to give to her CSA and farmer's market customers.

Work is getting very, very busy ... and that's nice. Election day was yesterday - I live about 5 blocks from one of the mayoral candidates. Thankfully, Seattle's low key about political publicity. If it snows, beware, that street is one of the least plowable in the city.

starting to pick up

August 31st, 2009 at 09:04 pm

Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $3.29 forks
Found money - $0.01 (chiropractor's office) + $0.01 (Goodwill parking lot) + $0.01 (underneath Safeway vending machine)

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $1.90 bagel (free coffee) + $2.90 large iced tea, apple
Found money - $0.02 (floor of Pete's coffee)

Made a nickel the hard way these last two days! Would have thought that the Goodwill parking lot was prime for change finding: very busy, cash business, kids, people shifting money from hand to pocket and leaving in a hurry. I found a penny, was expecting to find much more.

I went to Goodwill again to buy forks. Got 15 for $3. Last April, several co workers complained that the temp staff stole all the forks. I bought 8 forks at Goodwill after the temp staff left. Opened the work silverware drawer in the last few days: one fork. Look in the mirror, thieves. Quit blaming others.

BIL and DH's sister have firmly decided to visit the Oshkosh EAA next year in 2010. "If not now, then when?". I emailed them and invited them to stay at the farmette, and sister emailed them and invited them to the farmette. We'll see. Just a little warning: if you decide not to attend EAA for a day or two, sister will work you in the garden. We joked that we were in a re-education camp.

Sister's birthday yesterday. She got her b-day gift from us but she chided DH: if you are going to use popcorn as a packing material, don't use oil! Big Grin She and the neighbor at the farmette are getting tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes, and squash, squash, squash. She's beginning to be a regular at the Tuesday farmer's market and picked up another customer near the farmette, losing a non-payer in Milwaukee. I suspect that that's the benefit of the farmer's market - advertising to pick up weekly customers.

Yesterday I got my library visit in before the Seattle libraries furloughed for the week.

Kitty is settling in even more. Ate more dry food (at least she's cheap, sister said), and after she begged a little from my plate (I have SUCKER tattooed in cat on my forehead), played for a few minutes with the mouse on a stick, totally DESTROYED the little plastic bag containing catnip that I put on my dresser, explored the kitchen and the tops of the washer and dryer, tolerated a bit of brushing, wants to snuggle on the bad as soon as the lights are down. In other words, a full day, and not that shy. She does have an unusual habit - she is quite the tail swisher when you pet her and you think you better stop otherwise you'll get a claw in your hand...but she doesn't growl or attack. Tail swishing must mean general excitement. Think I will call her V.I.

mail tales

August 25th, 2009 at 09:12 pm

Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $22 2 baseball tickets
Found money - $0

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $20 chiropractor
Found money - $0.01 (Safeway floor)

Yesterday we got the sister's cucumbers, pickling cucumbers, carrots, hot banana peppers, string cheese. Apparently she packed it so tight (her strategy is to stuff the 10$ box) that the original box broke up - the postal service collected everything in a garbage bag, put it in a box, and taped the address from the old box.

Except for one destroyed, squishy cucumber, once everything got a quick rinse it was all right. Carrots (6 inchers - no doubt the ones we planted in June) got sliced lengthwise, laid out in a single layer, doused with a bit of olive oil and salt and roasted at 350F for 20 minutes.

The pickling cucumbers were a challenge - DH doesn't like pickles, and while I like them, I don't love them. I treated the pickling cukes like regular cukes - chopped them into 1/4 in pieces, added salt and let sit 1-2 hours to sweat them, then drain, combine with chopped red onion, chopped banana pepper, two cans of drained garbanzo beans, then dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, parsley.

Its sister's birthday next week, so DH helped me mail off her gift. We tried to pack it properly - no need to add to the USPS's troubles.

Speaking of mail - the one side benefit of the recession is far less mail. No credit offers, few catalogs, only or two neighborhood flyers. For a week or two early this month, it was old times with tons of glossy campaign mail. Now? Nothing yesterday, 2 pieces for DH. I still get most of my stock receipts by mail - while I'm green, I must be light green. I like the idea of not having to remember my password to get my monthly or quarterly info.

walking/cleaning out freezer weekend

August 16th, 2009 at 07:30 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $3.88 coffee, pastry + $23 groceries
Found money - $0

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $3.88 coffee, bagel + $.77 apple
Found money - $0

Another change finding drought. Ah well.

Yesterday was a walking day. All the routes that I thought of I thought, "meh", so it was time for adventure. My route was walking from work in south downtown Seattle (didn't work, just deposited CLEAN gym clothes), through the Pike Market, along Stewart St, Eastlake, then took the Lakeside overpass into Capital Hill, up Broadway, up 10th Street, turned right at Roanoke Park, and walked along south Lake Union (Delmar, Lynn, 19th) along the Montlake cut, nearly 5 miles.

I love map my run, even though I rarely run. Jog maybe, walk mostly. I like my urban hikes. If nothing else, these walks force me to think on my feet. I note the bus routes and where I am, and am learning a lot of new-to-me-arterials. I'm debating whether to keep this to North Seattle only, or use the new light rail to explore some of south Seattle.

Today I did jog my 3 miles and did it in 45 min 9 sec, so very close to the 44 min goal my trainer re-set for me. At the very, very end though I did feel a sharp pain in my knee, so discretion being the better part of valor, I took it slow and took the bus back.

I looked in the freezer - with our influx of beef (and maybe duck) in the next few weeks - it was time to use the freezer food. I bought the last cheap cherries of the season, picked up several peaches for .99/lb, picked a couple of pints of blackberries hiding underneath our cherry tree, and we had a couple of plums to get rid off. The cherry, peach, plum, blackberry is the perfect cooked fruit combination - along with that tube of biscuits hiding in the freezer - it meant cobbler.

Sister called and asked us how our cucumber situation was. We are getting cucumber and carrots. The tomatoes that we planted at the farmette in June are beginning to come on. Turns out that there is a Tuesday Farmer's market 6 mi from the farmette with no participation fee for the growers, so sister tried it out. She sold $40 at the market but better yet, she picked up a weekly customer so close to the farmette that sister doesn't have to deliver, customer can come out. And the customer promises to tell her friends.

spendy next couple of weeks

July 8th, 2009 at 10:29 pm

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $10 lunch + $11 lb of coffee

Had lunch with the gang today, and since I seem to have only one restaurant lunch in two weeks, I don't feel all that bad about it.

After paying 2Q taxes last week and in the next couple of weeks I will be paying off the gym personal trainer, it will be a very spendy couple of weeks.

As of this writing I have $120 to last me a until my next paycheck 6 days from now. The weekends seem to be the worst, but in any case, I'm going to be feeling the frugal burn.

I worked out a bit yesterday. Sunday I ran one mile in 16 minutes, walked the next mile, and ran third mile in 18 minutes. Ugh. I was fairly depressed at doing not very well - but it was in the mid 80s. Hot for Seattle. If at first you don't succeed and all that.

It is with great sadness that I've read about the passing of Oscar Meyer and the actress who played Mrs. Slocomb in Are You Being Served? My childhood is slipping away.

Sister sent several pictures of the garden. The tomatoes that we planted on vacay are now about 2 feet high!

farmette garden

June 17th, 2009 at 08:36 pm

As promised, this post is to show off the farmette vegetable garden and all the stuff I had to weed and plant. Sister started a little CSA - she has three people in Milwaukee paying her to grow all this.

Peas in front row, then onion, spinach, lettuce, carrots, beets. Yum!

She's doing it organically, which means a lot of water, weeding, mulching, and compost. She has a couple of tricks for all you vegetable gardening newbies.

1. Double and triple rows. Sister plants one row, then a row 3-4 inches to the left, and a row 3-4 inches to the right. Especially useful if you have dogs that might misstep. If you have one row, missteps can really kill you; with triple rows you can consider missteps a way of thinning plants out.

A couple of triple rows of beets, freshly weeded. Compare this pic with the very last one on the post.

2. Mark your rows. Along with the regular seeding, sister puts in a radish seed every 6-8 inches. The radish seedlings come up in about 3-4 days, marking the row. Radish seeds are cheap and easy so if you really don't like 'em, pull 'em when the seedlings you want really come up. (and give them to us)

3. Plant, water, compost on the row, then mulch between the rows for weed control.

The week we were there we helped plant tomatoes. This picture was taken during the Caddyshack phase of planting.

We dug the holes, put a bit of compost in and mixed it with the soil from the hole, then transplanted tomato seedlings, then watered, then mulched around it. Sister let me finish with our secret way getting great tomatoes without blossom end rot - one Tums (with calcium) slipped into the soil about a foot away from the plant.

4. If your water is cold (ours was), let the water sit in a bucket to warm up for a little while. The seedlings won't go into shock. And let the dog have a bite!

The triple row of beets, a few days after the weeding. They really perked up.

Farmette adventures (long)

June 15th, 2009 at 09:51 pm

As I said before, DH, Morgan and I took a two week road trip to Wisconsin and back. We wanted to spend as much time as possible at our destination so we drove it in 3 1/2 days getting there, and 3 days getting back.

Novel stuff we noticed (some economic, so it is appropriate for a financial diary)

1. Montana has a speed limit, which is a change from "cautious and prudent" and is now a bit more strictly enforced. We were stopped going 85 in a 75, and given a warning. The trooper confided that it was less a case of stopping speeders and more figuring out how you act when stopped. Calm lead foots get off with a warning.

2. We went through at least 20 construction sites through our route. Minnesota was especially forthright - big signs declared that it was "your stimulus money at work." Can't complain - the roads need work.

3. There are way more wind farms out on the route. We went through at least five. 1 in Washington, 1 in South Dakota, 2 in Minnesota, 1 in Wisconsin.

4. Kitty was well behaved in the car. Whew! We didn't have any problem finding a hotel - a couple hotels did give us a 10$ pet charge. One didn't (thank you, Best Western!). Morgan didn't do well with dogs, though.

5. The less coffee you drink, the fewer rest stops you need. (this one's for DH. Big Grin)

6. Sister still makes a mean pie crust.

Now for the adventures. We got to the farmette mid-afternoon Tuesday and were promptly given a tour and put to work. Sister is creating a bad-ass several acre organic garden and is running an informal CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) for several people in Milwaukee. By the time I was finished for that week, I had: weeded 2 triple rows of beets, 3 triple rows of carrots, 2 rows of peas, weeded the raspberry patch, helped dig holes for and plant 100 tomato plants, 20 or so pepper plants, planted 1 row of popcorn by hand, scattered calcium pellets over an acre, planted two rows of lettuce, and 2 more triple rows of carrots.

Sister's partner came with the dogs, and they loved to chase things, including kitties. Morgan immediately hid up in upstairs and hung out there. She loved the attic and played princess in the upstairs. When she caught a mouse up there, sister told us that Morgan could come back anytime.

Sister and her partner ahve both done a fantastic job with the farmette - its now a fun party place and has been for the last couple of years, ever since sister decided to leave her job and be at the farmette for weeks at a time.

I showed DH the creek in back of the old property (now public land, owned by the state of WI), and sister and I showed him the other piece of property. Officially we were trespassing so out of country politeness we didn't stay long. It turns out that we sold to a developer who went bust and re-sold the property to the corporate farmer. Not great, but all things considered not bad. We got the best price, and while we don't own it, it is still being farmed.

We also spent the weekend in Milwaukee. Sister gave us the choice between staying with them or staying across the street with their friends who live in a refurbished funeral home. How could we resist? We stayed at the funeral home and got a great tour of the place. As a payback, we helped the owners clean up their computer.

The bad adventure came a couple of Fridays ago. We were still at the farmette, driving home from a Friday night fish fry when DH hit and killed a deer with our car, ripping up the cushmobile's left front bumper. Its still driveable as long as you drive during the day (no left headlight), but the insurance adjuster thinks its close to a total.

My other two projects were to help reconcile what sister spent in the year and a half since I last did that job. I also looked at the last of dad's old receipts and paperwork, determining what to keep and what to toss for tax purposes. In a sense, probate and the estate is supposed to close that door. I mean, how can you audit a dead guy? I was conservative, though, and had them keep the paper for 8 years, but anything pre-2001 I suggested that sister toss.

Pictures - the garden pictures under the next entry....

I call shotgun...

Wind farm and road work combined

The working living room (farmette)

The second living room, taken from the working living room (farmette)

The kitchen (farmette)

The mudroom. The black kitty is NOT Morgan, but Midnight, a two-year old semi feral tomcat. DH nearly got him calm enough to pet, then the dogs came and poof - both he and Morgan disappeared.

East side of the farmhouse. Funny how the paint job only goes so high.

The other piece of property. This year its in corn.

The other piece of property has sheds too. This is one.

The car after the deer kill. I have to look on the bright side. If you see that coming up to you at 75, you'll get out of the way. RIP cushmobile.

I'm back (yet again)

June 14th, 2009 at 08:29 pm

DH, Morgan (our cat), and I went for two weeks to the land of my fathers ... aka Oshkosh and Milwaukee WI. Sister has done a lot with the farmette, and we had a number of adventures, most good, one not so much.

More tomorrow!

power choices

April 2nd, 2009 at 09:16 pm

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $2 coffee

Turns out that my only non-dividend stock is getting bought out by company that does generate a dividend. Unfortunately, it doesn't have a formal reinvestment program. So one step at a time.

Sister got an offer to get a slightly better price on the solar power the farmette is generating, and the price is retroactive to the beginning. The idea is that we sell all the power, then buy back what we need, instead of using what we generate and selling the rest. There is a setup box involved at a cost of about $800. I figure that with the retroactive pricing from the beginning, we should get about $760 as a bonus. So from that aspect we are nearly at all gravy. However, we are locked into a price for 10 years. If the price of power goes down, then we sit pretty. If power goes up, not good, because we not only are generating cheap power, but we have to buy the power back at the expensive rate.

two ghosts

March 13th, 2009 at 09:50 pm

Next week Saturday, the 21st, is when we go ghostbusting at our offices. 7pm to 11pm, but if something is found (!) we'll stay until 2am. A couple of co workers are really hoping for a near seance. "Maybe it will be (fill in with your fav Seattle founder)."

As for me, I think one of my co workers will bring a big Great Dane that we will nickname Scooby Doo... which mean we'll probably find out the ghost is actually a real estate developer trying to scare the buyers away so he can get a cheap price. Big Grin

I definitely plan to take notes and pictures, but more for my own purposes. I'm thinking of visiting sister and the farmette in mid-June. As some of you might remember, our farmette has a possible entity also - a man in a fedora going up our second floor stairs. Often the door leading into those stairs would 'pop' open even when firmly latched, then would melodramatically creaak at the end.

Sister tells me that she is nearly done with the kitchen, that it looks fabulous, definitely "not embarrassing". She has two dogs, both shaggy, so with our farmette ghost we can have the Shaggy Doo sequel.

vampire's kiss

February 20th, 2009 at 08:53 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $8 groceries

Or Mafia kiss, I'm still trying to decide about that. I received a little missive about changes in my Capital One credit card. Many of you have also received it, so you'll know what I got.

24.99% APR.

DH asked me what Capital One was thinking. Its pretty easy - I am a deadbeat, paying my bill monthly. They don't make any money on me anyway, so they might as well hike it up to either clear the decks (get rid of the non-performers like me), or if I keep it, they can lie in wait to pounce when I slip.

Its a little like keeping a fiscal hungry tiger in the backyard. Time to shoot it between the eyes and decline my card. I have until April 17 to do so; by May 15 it will be gone. I have one yearly recurring charge on it that I have to fix and I would rather do that than assume that Cap One will close the account before it gets charged - the odds haven't been on my side.

In other news, sister is in the midst of fixing up the kitchen walls and ceiling at the farmette...now that the floor looks good.

question from the peanut gallery

February 4th, 2009 at 09:03 pm

Saving log - $5 tip box
Spending log - $3.50 fresh juice

Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $10 lunch

Its busy at work but I'm making great progress so I bought a treat yesterday and had lunch with the gang today.

Lawyer friend had read my blog and had a question for me: Why don't I count the farmette in my net worth? Let me see...

1. Don't know what the farmette's worth, and really, until I'm bought out or it goes up for sale, not worth it to me to appraise it.

2. And it would 1/2 of an estimate anyway.

3. Treating the farmette like an expense, which it is if I pay half-sies on expenses and taxes and I visit it once every couple of years.

4. Would prefer that my net worth be an underestimate.

After lunch, as we were walking back to work, screenwriter friend found a $10 bill under a parked car. Score for him.

Apologies that I haven't been posting daily - I have an excuse, now I have to look around for the screen and type one handed...


January 8th, 2009 at 08:38 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $18 groceries

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $8 groceries

Q: So what's the difference between Mike Tyson and Morgan Le Fay, our kitten?

A: Morgan will lick your ear first before she chomps down.

Kitten now sleeps with us on top of the bed, which is good, but the chomp of ears and nose is not the optimum way to wake up after a sound sleep. I've been pushing her away because even though its a kitten phase, its not a habit she should take with her as an adult. After thinking about the problem, two other things are working:

1. Rub a bit of orange peel on my nose and ears before I go to sleep. I like the orange-y smell, but kitty hates it.

2. Keep my hands away from my face as I sleep. Kitten likes to play scary hand, but if you play scary hand in front of your face, your ears and nose are just finger 11, 12, 13.

So far that's been working.

Treated myself by buying 18 oz of blueberries for $5.98.

Sister sent me news that the state of Wisconsin incentive check for installing solar has come: $5324. Along with that news came a picture of the newly installed kitchen floor of the farmette...

also with sister's dogs, and a red-orange accent wall leading to the living room.

all claws

January 2nd, 2009 at 11:48 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $0

Yippee. Another no spend day.

Sister emailed me - the kitchen floor of the farmette is nearly done. It really needed that complete renovation. Patches of the now gray 30s linoleum (so old that we got a scare - the tiles might have contained asbestos) were worn through a couple of inches to the subfloor underneath. The times are changin'. We must have been the only project the floor contractor had because they were working our 3K job through two snowstorms and Christmas.

All claws refers to Morgan. I'm going to have to get some thick, kitten claw proof socks because she has a total passion for my orange slippers, my bell bottoms, and my ankles. OW! She uses the scratching post extensively just to hone those little scimitars, but when she gets done honing, apparently only a fresh human ankle will do. If my writing starts to trail off...my blood type is A+.

devil money

December 8th, 2008 at 09:10 pm

Saving log - $5 tip box
Spending log - $0

I managed to work out during lunch, or more precisely, before lunch and I brought my own lunch - a ham sandwich - and used a gift card for the coffee, so no money was spent on my part. Nice to make up for the heavy-duty weekend spending. I will be spending tomorrow though.

Sister emailed me. In addition to the flooring, which I totally support, she also wants to replace the windows at the farmette. I support her far less on that project. There are some bad windows, sure, but replace those and wait for next year. The window guys I think are starting to apply some pressure on her. They are interested in a 2 yr contract. I can see that that would help them out more than it would us. It means that we are locked into a price, and if the price of the service rises, great. But what if the price falls? Best to do what absolutely needs to be done and wait until next year. 10K on the farmette is my spending limit for 2009.

The 2008 tax season is here. I got my first 1099 of the season, and at work we got the change-your-403B-withholding email. We can save up to $16,500 for the year in the 403B. This last year, as part of getting into a better tax situation, I hiked up the 403B withholding to the limit, and found that I got used to the much smaller check. Not to mention that this year its the golden opportunity to buy into equity-based mutual funds. I will continue for 2009.

As far as the title of my post - dividing $16,000 into 24 pay periods gave me an answer that made me smile.

backdating prognostication

December 1st, 2008 at 09:07 pm

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $0

The gym and brown bag/leftover lunch strategy worked very well. Not planning on going to the gym tomorrow, but I am planning on bringing my lunch again and finishing off several containers of leftovers. I do still have plenty of white turkey breast for turkey salad and turkey soup.

2 funds of my 403B are going to be swapped out for two other funds. There's my tinkering and then there are other people's tinkering. I am still considering moving some of my taxable cash in Vanguard to a Vanguard index fund - however I don't want to do it now because the distributions are on Dec 15 or so. I would be taxed on the distribution if I own it, even if I own it for a day.

Strangely enough, I am getting used to the freakish gyrations of the stock market. 680 points? Yawn. Now it feels if the market only goes up or down by twenty or thirty points one thinks, "why bother running the darn thing?"

All this backdating prognostication is getting to me. Yes, the recession started December 2007. Yes, I remember December 2007...everyone was saying, "no its not a recession, don't even think its a recession, and to say so means you'll trigger a recession." Decided to declare the bad news late, so maybe we'll be out of it by the time we call it? Well, I've got news for you ... this is going to be a nice long recession, we won't get out of it until 2010 at the very earliest. Ha! What do you think about that?

Sister is helping the local economy of Wisconsin out, though. She's going to get the flooring done at the farmette. Yay! The floors are the one thing that badly need repair. I suggested we hold off a bit for some of the contracting jobs until the recession really bit. If the contractor is a bit hungry, they should give you a better deal. At least if you are the only meal in town, they won't blow your project off.

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